It wasn’t that long ago that environmental programming was a rarity on television. Aside from the occasional conservation program or nature documentary, the majority of TV was composed of cop dramas, sports, sitcoms and game shows.
Actually, that’s still the case today, but the large number of channels means there is also room for more diverse shows. Programming executives have noticed the increased desire to see environmental issues hit the airwaves. Whole cable networks have been based on environmental programming and already-existing channels have increased their attention to the environment. Children’s programming, in that regard, has come a long way. Take a look at our picks of the best green TV shows out there.
Top Green TV Shows for Adults & Teens
Wild Chronicles (PBS) â€“ This National Geographic-produced show features host Boyd Matson, as he travels the world reporting on nature, environmental concerns and science.
Big Ideas for a Small Planet (Sundance Channel) â€“ A project of Robert Redford, this show looks for small-scale solutions to large-scale environmental problems and profiles people who are taking action.
Focus Earth with Bob Woodruff (Planet Green) â€“ This is an environmentally-themed weekly newscast, produced by ABC News.
Whale Wars (Animal Planet) â€“ This miniseries followed the crew of the Sea Shepherd, a non-violent group that disrupts Japanese whaling.
Planet Earth (Discovery Channel) â€“ This 11-episode miniseries was the most expensive nature documentary ever produced by the BBC and the first shot entirely in high-definition. Featuring wildlife from a different habitat in each episode and narrated by Sigourney Weaver, this series is simply breathtaking.
Six Degrees Could Change the World (National Geographic Channel) â€“ An hour-long special that looked at the effects that six degrees of temperature change could have on weather, agriculture, humans and other species.
Living With Ed (Planet Green) â€“ Eco-conscious star Ed Begley, Jr.’s reality show documents his environmental crusade and features cameos from other celebrities looking for environmental advice.
Top Green TV Shows for Children
Eco Company (station varies) â€“ A weekly program hosted by kids that explores how kids are combating environmental problems. Visit the program’s website to watch episodes or find air times on local stations.
Stuff Happens (Planet Green) â€“ Host Bill Nye explains scientific concepts in fun, easy-to-follow ways. Environmental themes are often explored.
Sesame Street (PBS) â€“ The children’s programming franchise-of-all-franchises has recently stepped up its ecological and scientific focus, part of a two-year initiative called â€œMy World is Green and Growing.â€
Captain Planet And The Planeteers â€“ This animated action series from the ’90s (now available on DVD) features the exploits of a multi-ethnic, multi-national team of young environmental crimefighters. Each possesses a special ring that, when combined, call Captain Planet, an eco-themed superhero. The group also ends each episode with a short message to kids about pollution, recycling, or other environmental issues.
Environmentally-themed Episodes of Popular Shows
Here are a few examples of popular TV shows that featured an episode devoted to environmental issues.
SpongeBob SquarePants, “Spongebob’s Last Stand” (2010) – When a developer threatens to build a superhighway through Jellyfish Fields, displacing all the jellyfish, SpongeBob, Patrick and Mr. Krabs do everything they can to stop them.
Saved by the Bell, “Pipe Dreams” (Season 3, 1991) â€“ Saved by the Bell was a lighthearted Sunday morning teen comedy show, set at fictitious Bayside High. In this episode, oil is discovered beneath the football field and the gang has to decide what to do. An oil company eventually moves in and a spill threatens local wildlife.
Bones â€œThe Tough Man in The Tender Chicken” (Season 6, 2009) â€“ In this episodes of Fox’s forensic crime investigation show, Booth and Brennan investigate the mysterious death of a chicken farmer. Animal rights issues are touched upon.
The Simpsons â€“ In Springfield, the reactors of the nuclear power plant, owned by evil billionaire Montgomery Burns, dominate the skyline. It’s also where Homer Simpson works. Many episodes have used a core meltdown or the plant’s pollution as a plot device. The plant’s run-off creates a three-eyed fish named Blinky. Homer narrowly averts a meltdown, by accident, at one point. Nuclear disasters aren’t funny, but these episodes tapped into and tweaked popular skepticism about nuclear energy.
Did we miss any of your favorite episodes or TV shows? Drop us a comment and let us know!